In Depth and in Liverpool

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with the lovely Virginia Lowes in Café Des Amis in Sheffield. It was raining outside – hard – but inside was good. We ate baclava and I talked, at length, about writing, about teaching, about place, about my childhood influences. We got through a lot and it was good and it’s probably the most in-depth interview I’ve given in a long time. The full interview’s here.

I say things like:

“I think that in writing if you say anything simply and boldly your reader will believe you. If you say confidently that there was an 8-foot man who lived in a tree and you could only see him at Halloween people will believe you. Fantasy doesn’t always stretch to sorcerers and swords and elves, fantasy can be anything at all. The point of the writing is that you’re allowed to make things up – that’s the joy of it all. Look at the Life of Pi people don’t normally get on boats or rafts with tigers! Or look through the classics at Dracula or Frankenstein!”



At what point do you decide if it’s going to be a piece of flash fiction or a short story? 

When it’s finished. I write everything first draft by hand and I write ‘til the story’s finished. If it happens to be 200 words that’s fine. Same if it’s 7000 words. The story has got to come first. Once you start to try and wrestle it into a particular shape or size it stops being what it is.


And at the beginning of the month I took a train to The Fly in The Loaf in Liverpool to be at the Poised Pen’s awards night. I read a couple of stories I’d not read in public for a long time and I presented the winners (who could make it) of the flash fiction competition I’d judged with their prizes and I had a lot of fun and met a lot of really lovely and really talented writers (I think there were about 100 there).

Vanessa did a wonderful job of pulling everything together and was dazzling, and it was all very good. And I think what I noticed most was how far some people had travelled to be there – from The Lakes, from Kent, from Manchester and I think that goes to show what I great job the group’s been doing and the quality of work they produce.

And here are some photos, courtesy of the brilliant Zevonesque (you can see many more here).

DSC_0633The Highly Commended (who were able to be there) including winner, Barbara Renel (3rd from left)

liverpool1Me. (Because I prefer myself in black and white.)

DSC_0603Getting ready to announce the winners

DSC_0607Reading from Freaks!

And I imagine this’ll be the last one on here before I take a couple of days off for the holidays and see people and sleep. I wish you all the very best of things and I hope you get what you deserve. Be nice and be happy.

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